Look for signs of child abuse when treating adults, says GMC

GPs must be able to spot early warning signs of child abuse and neglect even when dealing with adults, the GMC has said.

In draft guidance on handing child abuse and neglect, the GMC said doctors have a duty to protect children from abuse and for ensuring they receive the support to keep them safe.

It said every doctor should be able to spot signs that a child could be at risk at an early stage, for example if a parent misuses drugs or alcohol.

It recommends that doctors who suspect child abuse must tell the parents and the children about their concerns as soon as possible, as well as the action they intend to take.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said he hoped the new guidance will provide clarity in this ‘complex area of practice’.

He said: ‘We recognise that taking action to protect children from abuse can be challenging and distressing for everyone involved. We hope it will also help give doctors confidence to make these extremely difficult decisions.’

The consultation runs until 16 October 2011. 

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